Accepted paper:

Sovereignty, violence and governmentality in Rio de Janeiro

Authors:

Martijn Oosterbaan (Utrecht University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes the discursive boundaries between citizen-subjects in Rio de Janeiro in order to understand how security measures are evaluated differently according to the urban areas where actors operate.

Paper long abstract:

In Rio de Janeiro, different modes of reasoning about justice overlap dispersedly and uncomfortably with different geographical areas of the city. Whereas in certain neighborhoods of the city, policemen use excessive force without much restraint or public debate, other neighborhoods are perceived and described as defendable at all costs (if necessary by vigilantes, according to public opinion). In an attempt to understand U.S. intellectual reactions in the aftermath of the 11th September attacks, Judith Butler analyzes the emotional-political responses to death and violence in relation U.S. citizenship by asking the question: 'which lives are deemed grievable and which are not?' (2003). Interrogating the interplay between sovereignty and governmentality, Butler analyzes, amongst others, the pubic discourses, that reproduce boundaries between different kinds of subjects in (inter)national context. This paper presents a modest attempt to analyze discursive/performative boundaries between citizen-subjects in Rio de Janeiro in order to understand how similar state actions - related to security - are evaluated differently according to the geographical areas where its actors operate. As I will argue, different modes of reasoning about justice are strongly related to attempts to 'fix' the common perception of certain urban areas as spaces that escape the rule of law of the state, which subsequently are employed to legitimize 'security' operations by (military) policemen in such areas.

panel P067
Security and citizenship (Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology Network)